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New rental reforms and taxes may worsen rental crisis, warns buyers’ agent group

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The Real Estate Buyers Agents Association of Australia (REBAA) has cautioned that recent rental reforms and increased property taxes introduced by state governments could exacerbate the current rental crisis by further reducing property investor appetite.

REBAA Vice President Zoran Solano said the new measures prove that state governments fail to understand one of the underlying causes of the rental crisis – a decrease in property investors.

“There is no question that the rental crisis is entrenched around the nation,” Solano said.

He noted that the national vacancy rate has remained at about one percent for over two years, an unprecedented situation that shows no signs of improving.

Recent weeks have seen several state governments introduce new measures affecting property investors:

  • The Queensland Government announced the second stage of its rental reforms, including limits on rent increases.
  • The New South Wales Government froze its land tax threshold and proposed removing No Grounds Evictions in tenancies.
  • The Victorian Government introduced numerous rental reforms and lowered the land tax threshold, resulting in higher taxes for many investors.

Solano criticized these moves, saying, “State governments continue to believe it’s a sound idea to push ahead with restrictive rental reforms and higher property investor taxes at a time when rental markets are severely undersupplied.”

He highlighted the situation in Queensland as particularly concerning, with rent increase limits being applied retrospectively and new minimum housing standards proving costly for some investors.

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“For many investors, they simply can’t afford to continue to hold their investment properties and are making the difficult decision to sell instead,” Solano said.

He pointed out that the exodus of property investors has been a common trend nationwide since the pandemic, predating the current rise in interest rates.

“State Governments have relied on investors to provide the majority of rental housing for more than two decades now,” Solano explained. “After the pandemic, though, many decided to exit the market so there are simply not enough rental dwellings available for tenants to lease.”

Solano warned that the rental crisis is likely to continue until interest rates decrease significantly or governments start treating investors with more respect.

“Now is not the time to announce new anti-investor policies or higher property taxes,” he concluded.

The REBAA’s statements underscore the complex challenges facing Australia’s rental market, highlighting the potential unintended consequences of well-intentioned reforms in a time of housing shortages and economic pressure.

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